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Florida Prisons Chief: Status Quo 'Unsustainable'

October 17, 2019 - 8:00am

House and Senate criminal justice panels on Wednesday once again received an education about the ongoing problems plaguing Florida’s prison system.

Ahead of the 2020 legislative session, lawmakers on the committees heard alarming statistics showing a skyrocketing rate of violence, contraband being smuggled into state prisons, and high turnover rates among correctional officers.

And the legislators were also reminded that it will take millions of dollars to fix the problems.

“At the end of the day we need a plan,” Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, told his colleagues during Wednesday's meeting. “This is going to take all of us working together and the full [Senate] Appropriations Committee as well.”

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch told the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee he is seeking roughly $90 million to fund two initiatives he believes will bolster staffing levels at state prisons.

Mark Inch
Mark Inch
Low staffing levels, Inch said, is one of the root causes for a dramatic increase in violent acts and contraband behind bars.

“I do believe the status quo is unsustainable,” Inch told the House panel.

The pair of proposals includes a $60 million retention-pay plan for correctional officers and a $29 million pilot program that would convert one third of the state prisons’ 12-hour shifts to 8-hour work days.

Under the agency’s proposed retention-pay plan, correctional officers would get a $1,500 pay increase after 2 years of service and a $2,500 increase after 5 years of work.

The hourly shift changes, which would be more costly and are expected to be a contentious part of union negotiations, are more complicated, Inch admitted.

Inch said it is “undeniable” the department would benefit from making the switch but acknowledged that “some staff prefer 12-hour shifts because they have adjusted their life to those working patterns.”

For the pilot program to work, the state agency would need to hire roughly 300 new prison guards, according to a legislative budget proposal submitted by the agency.

Inch stressed the pilot program would only impact one-third of state prisons because his administration does not have the resources to revamp the entire system in a single year.

The plan, if it moves forward, would likely reduce the state agency’s overtime expenses.

Overtime costs have skyrocketed in the last decade, according to a presentation delivered Wednesday by Brandes.

Over the past decade, the agency has seen a $10 million increase in overtime expenses, with the cost totaling in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

After Inch pitched the initiatives and asked lawmakers for more money, House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, told committee members, when considering the requests, to consider the “economic slowdown” predicted by state economists.

The pair of proposals Inch is pushing comes in the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis lowering the minimum age to work as correctional officers, another attempt to address the agency’s workforce shortage.

It remains to be seen if that policy change, authorized by the Legislature earlier this year, has helped the corrections system recruit more guards.

Inch blamed the low staffing levels for a dramatic increase in violent acts and contraband behind bars, but the corrections secretary also said he is not turning a blind eye to correctional officers’ contributions to violence.

He said his agency is currently investigating the recent actions of three Lake Correctional Institution officers, who were caught on video pounding on an inmate.

“Those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable,” Inch said.


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the response to C.O. abuse and murder of inmates should be LIFE w/o parole. We teach our children to stand as one and accept consequences for for their actions. We as parents have been brainwashed to accept the fact and trust the process. Unfortunately some do not come home which decimates a family tree

Make aggravated assault retroactive before 2016 for non violent and send them home their doing 20 years for a 5 year sentence

My son is doing 20 on 10 year

How does Florida compare to California? Thirteen of California's thirty-three prisons (39%) were built after 1990. In contrast, only two of California's twenty-three State Universities were built after 1960. Only one other campus was built between 1965 and 1994. Investing less in monolithic prisons and more in education would serve us well. This statistics are several years old. Who knows how much worse it has become?

Put ankle monitors on them and send them home at least they could work and be with there families instead of caged up like animals

They need BETTER Administrators; give them an “INCH”, they’ll take a mile”..

I escaped justice.

...oh no you didn't!


I would like to see a cost breakdown of the prisons as Private and State run. The Private include--Private Bay Correctional Facility (operated by GEO Group) Blackwater River Correctional Facility (GEO Group) Gadsden Correctional Facility (Management and Training Corporation; women's facility) Graceville Correctional Facility (GEO Group) Lake City Correctional Facility (Corrections Corporation of America) Moore Haven Correctional Facility (GEO Group) South Bay Correctional Facility (GEO Group)--------------State Run--- Apalachee Correctional Institution, East Unit Apalachee Correctional Institution, West Unit (operating capacity 819) Avon Park Correctional Institution (capacity 956) Baker Correctional Institution Calhoun Correctional Institution Central Florida Reception Center Central Florida Reception Center, East Unit Central Florida Reception Center, South Unit (capacity 150) Century Correctional Institution Charlotte Correctional Institution Columbia Correctional Institution Columbia Correctional Institution Annex Cross City Correctional Institution Cross City East Unit (capacity 432) Dade Correctional Institution Desoto Annex Everglades Correctional Institution Florida State Prison Florida State Prison, West Unit (capacity 802) Florida Women's Reception Center (women's facility) Franklin Correctional Institution' Green Dolphin Street Institution Gulf Correctional Institution Gulf Correctional Institution Annex Hamilton Correctional Institution Hamilton Correctional Institution Annex Hardee Correctional Institution Hernando Correctional Institution (capacity 467; women's facility) Holmes Correctional Institution Homestead Correctional Institution (capacity 668; women's facility) Jackson Correctional Institution Jefferson Correctional Institution Lake Correctional Institution Lancaster Correctional Institution (capacity 732) Lawtey Correctional Institution Liberty Correctional Institution Lowell Correctional Institution (women's facility) Lowell Annex (women's facility) Madison Correctional Institution Marion Correctional Institution Martin Correctional Institution Mayo Correctional Institution Annex Northwest Florida Reception Center Northwest Florida Reception Center Annex Okaloosa Correctional Institution (capacity 894) Okeechobee Correctional Institution Polk Correctional Institution Putnam Correctional Institution (capacity 458) Quincy Annex (capacity 408) Reception and Medical Center Reception and Medical Center, West Unit Santa Rosa Correctional Institution Santa Rosa Correctional Institution Annex South Florida Reception Center South Florida Reception Center, South Unit (capacity 699) Sumter Correctional Institution Suwannee Correctional Institution Suwannee Correctional Institution Annex Taylor Correctional Institution Taylor Correctional Institution Annex Tomoka Correctional Institution Union Correctional Institution Wakulla Correctional Institution Wakulla Correctional Institution Annex Walton Correctional Institution Zephyrhills Correctional Institution (capacity 758)-------------According to the article at Florida Department of Corrections operates the third largest state prison system and one of the lowest paid in the United States. It is the largest agency administered by the State of Florida, with a budget of $2.4 billion, over 95,000 inmates incarcerated and another 115,000+ offenders on some type of community supervision.----- The Florida Department of Corrections has 143 facilities statewide, including 43 major institutions, 33 work camps, 15 Annexes, 20 work release centers and 6 road prisons/forestry camps. It has more than 23,000 employees, about three-quarters of whom are either certified corrections officers or probation officers. Florida Department of Corrections has K9 units statewide that are frequently utilized for tracking escapees and, in cases of small or rural law enforcement agencies, criminals who have fled from law enforcement.----It costs on average $19,469 per year to incarcerate an inmate in Florida. This includes $2.32 per day for 2,800 calorie meals.

Privatized prisons have the same shortcomings as privatized charter schools. GET RID OF 'EM! BOTH!

Prisons are the most appropriate place for democRATs.

Prison is costing too much to taxpayers. We need to have Charter prison programs. We need to get rid of unions. Fired those abusers. We need more education.

What? Are they trying to clean it up prior to sending Hillary there?

Send the entire Clinton crime family syndicate to prison.

The highest ranking prisoner-to-be that they're likely "cleaning up for" is the current Draft-Dodger-In-Chief, Donito Trumpolini, head of the Trumpolini international crime family.

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